Railway underpass plan sparks alarm on Doncaster estate

Phil Godfrey and Phil Midgley, pictured with other concerned residents on Kelsey Gardens, Bessacarr, where there are plans to create an underpass. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP Underpass MC 1
Phil Godfrey and Phil Midgley, pictured with other concerned residents on Kelsey Gardens, Bessacarr, where there are plans to create an underpass. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP Underpass MC 1
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Residents fear a quiet Doncaster cul-de-sac could become a busy pedestrian walkway under plans to create a railway underpass next to it.

The underpass has been proposed to allow people to get between a planned new housing estate at Manor Farm, Bessacarr, and to the rest of the Bessacarr estate on the other site of the railway line.

It has caused concern with one high profile resident, Phil Midgeley, a former chairman of the Bessacarr Forum, claiming not enough has been done to warn residents of the scheme.

The plans would see the underpass built behind Kelsey Gardens, Bessacarr. Two other existing crossing points, which involve walking over the tracks, would be closed.

Mr Midgeley says he is concerned that it will 'spoil the amenity' for residents who will have people tramping through their estate. He said: "It is the only crossing of the railway and will be the route that people need to take to get to schools in Bessacarr."

He also says the residents have not had the chance to object, as notices were not placed in Kelsey Gardens, and the site address on all the planning notices the address of the underpass was Bessacarr Lane - although Kelsey Gardens did appear on the printed map.

He says residents should have been better consulted.

Phil Godfrey, a resident on Kelsey Gardens, said: "The first inclination, or news, that everyone I’ve spoken to on Kelsey Gardens had about an underpass being built on our cul-de-sac, was when we heard from a local councillor who was dealing with another matter and told us “Network Rail are installing an underpass at the end of your street”. This was in the latter half of 2016 and came as a bolt out of the blue.

"To the best of my knowledge the next thing we knew (first few months of 2017) was that Persimmon had bought two homes at the bottom of the street and also trees were being cleared around the same area. We realised in fact things were not years away but seemed to be happening very quickly – this was alarming. We still had not received any official notifications of this proposed underpass from our council.

"We feel that we went from a state of 'how has this happened without us knowing' – a complete lack of community involvement by Doncaster Council to being informed by Doncaster Council about 'it’s Permitted Development and so we (DMBC) have no rights to reject it'."

A Doncaster Council spokesperson, said: “Network Rail has permitted development rights for this underpass scheme which will connect to the existing footpath route.

"This means that planning permission from the council was not needed. As such we did not have to publicise the proposals but we decided to do so. This was a process carried out in December 2015 and completed in 2016.

"Site notices highlighting the plans were put up in the affected areas, including Kelsey Gardens, and we received no concerns about loss of residential amenity as part of this consultation.”